Gender in Rooms

By , oak park, IL
Both my room and Julia’s room lightly fit into masculine or feminine stereotypes, but they can be easily fit into other places. Julia’s room is “creamsicle orange”, while my room is a darker, more boy-associated color. They are both messy, yet mine has more distractions on the walls, adding to the stereotypical messiness of a boy. All of these things could easily belong to another stereotype, my room could be distracting because I am a person with a lot of ideas and loves to put them on the wall, Julia’s room could appear neater because she is never there, there are many possible excuses for why our rooms look the way they do.
I have circus posters on my walls, and that may be seen as feminine, because circus is associated with dance, and dance is considered feminine. I don’t know why that is. I can remember seeing things on TV. About how dancing was for girls since I was a little kid, so I was always afraid to take any kind of dance class, but I loved watching the circus. I think that circus is associated with dance because it involves performing and showing emotion like dance. Typically, that would be considered feminine because stereotypically men don’t show emotion as much as women do. That is probably why its “ok” for men to play sports; because all they have to do is show physical strength and they are achieving the goal of the sport. To do dance or circus, one must show physical ability and perform (or “show emotion”) and they have achieved the goal. Men know that circus takes a lot of physical strength, just as much as any sport, but aren’t always as willing to participate in it as women are, especially in the more dance-like disciplines like trapeze. The fact that showing emotion in men is considered bad has never made sense to me. When people think its feminine to do school plays because of acting and showing emotion, I have always thought “well, don’t you like movies and TV? All of those actors show emotion!” Because I have felt that way, I don’t have a problem with the circus. I also don’t care when people try to say circus is feminine, all I have to do is something amazing and they shut up.
There is no object in either my room or Julia’s room that can be seen as only masculine or feminine, just the way they are arranged or described can give that sense. Julia described the color of her walls, as “creamsicle orange” which both Jordan and I thought was funny. We would have called it light orange, or just orange, and didn’t pay that much attention to visual detail. In the article “Teaching to the Testosterone” by Elizabeth Weil, she states that Japanese researchers found that “Girls’ drawings typically depict still life’s of people, pets or flowers, using 10 or more crayons…boys… draw action” (82). She goes on to say that boys have been found to pay more attention to action and girls to details, which is supported by Julia’s statement. When I heard Julia say her walls were “creamsicle orange” I immediately thought that that was a feminine color. Yet if you described the color of my walls using more than just green (with perhaps the words light or dark) you might think it’s a feminine color as well.
Alan Johnson states in “Gender Knot” that in male-identified societies “core cultural ideas about what is considered good, desirable, preferable, or normal are associated with how we think about men and masculinity.”(15). In my room, there is nothing that has to do with cultural ideas about what is considered good based on masculinity, its all about me. The pictures and paintings on the walls are all things I made, my dad made, or that I enjoy doing. There are no pictures of male role models such as sports figures or celebrities doing what society says is masculine, just pictures of me juggling.
Wm S. Pollack states in “Real Boy’s voices” that boys are “forced to fit into rigid and cruel school cliques”(31). I feel that it can be seen in my room that that is not so. There is nothing in my room that identifies me as anything seen in a high school, no sports things to suggest jock-ness, nothing hipster-like or band geeky, just things. A person’s room describes who they are on the inside, not who they are in school.





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